The Legend of Eut-le-ten

The Quest

Brushing the Hemlock
Brushing the hemlock boughs, he walked stealthily.
Eut-le-ten started with no arms but his courage, to face the dread witch who had spirited away the children. The trail lay long, unknown and untrodden, save by the timber wolf, panther and black bear. It was feared by the Indians for dangers most dreadful – the greatest of all the chehah E-ish-so-oolth. He broke through dense shalal, fringing the green woods, making the shore line all but impenetrable. Into the thick woods, under the silvery spruce, brushing the hemlock boughs he walked stealthily. Salmon berry thickets impeded his progress, scratched his round limbs with the thorns on their canes. He passed white helebore, so tall and so handsome. He saw how the black bear had fed on swamp lily, tramping the glossy leaves into the black mud. He spurned the devil's club with berries so red and with poisonous thorns on stem and on leaf. Such was the trail as it led him far inland, inland away from his home by the sea. At last by a cool stream, the path lay before him. Hard by the stream a lodge was erected, a house of such size the boy stood dumbfounded, and he knew that this must be the dwelling of the children's dread captor.

Night time had come, the shadows had fallen and Eut-le-ten was tired with the long weary trail. Should he proceed or wait until morning? He climbed a tree which grew by the water, and hid in the branches to keep vigil, there to crave strength from the Saghalie spirit, the Hyas Tyee who dwells in the heavens, to grant him the strength, the wisdom, the courage to kill the dread witch. The night was long and the vigil lone, soundless except for the night hawk on wing, or the howl of the wolf in the quest of the red deer, or the splash of the salmon in the stream underneath.

Early next morning, before he descended, he plainly saw the form of the witch, coming to wash in the stream just below him. The water was clear reflecting her visage, fearsome in its hideous detail. Up in the tree brave Eut-le-ten saw her, he thought himself safe from her fierce prying eyes; he forgot that he too was mirrored below in the still water which lay at her feet. When she had finished her morning ablutions, she filled her vessel with water and turned to depart, when she saw just below her, the features of Eut-le-ten in the still water. Upturning her eyes to the branches above her, she saw there the boy half concealed in the foliage, and she smiled with a smile triumphant and cruel, thinking once more her fortune had found her, and brought to her lodge the boy she was wanting.

She greeted him, "Come, why tarriest up there? Come to my lodge, perchance thou art hungry; the fire has been kindled, the water is boiling, a welcome awaits thee, why tarriest longer? Descend from the tree and let me behold thee".

Down climbed Eut-le-ten nothing affrighted, but filled with the knowledge no harm could befall him.

"Why hast thou come, and whence dost thou go? Why didst thou leave thy home by the sea?" Such were the questions E-ish-so-oolth asked him. Then struck by his fairness and beauty of limb, she questioned him thus, "Why is thy skin so fair, and why are thy limbs so beautiful?"

Then Eut-le-ten answered her, "When I was a boy my Mother laid me upon the bare ground with my head on a stone, my Father placed a large rock on my forehead. Thus I was given the gift of the fair."

E-ish-so-oolth was envious of Eut-le-ten and much desired to look as young as he, so that with face so comely and so fair, she could entice the children to her lodge, wherefore she asked with evil ill concealed, "Can I by any means obtain this gift?"

Then Eut-le-ten divining her base thought and much desiring to make an end of her, declared that if she would lie down, and on the stone which lay beside the creek recline her head, he would place upon her forehead the stone which would both mould her features like to his, and make her skin as fair. The witch determined to try the charm at once, stretching her great length upon the ground, placed her head upon the stone.

Then Eut-le-ten lifted a great rock and hurled it down upon the witches head. "Die dread E-ish-so-oolth," he cried. "No more with evil charms wilt thou entice the children to thy lonely forest home."

So died the witch, and nevermore do mothers say when children misbehave. "Be good or I will call E-ish-so-oolth."

Next: The Ogre

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